Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Walk in my shoes - promoting student ePortfolio usage through teacher ownership  (#82)

John L Kertesz 1
  1. University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

 Press criticism of graduate teacher pedagogical skills and threats to withhold accreditation highlight the ongoing tension between declarative and demonstrated procedural knowledge in initial teacher education. Despite the capacity for ePortfolios to resolve this tension and to meet increasing regulatory demands that "universities should decide what evidence should be presented to prove the effectiveness of their degrees" (The Australian, 6 Nov 2014), ePortfolio integration into teacher education courses has been problematical. Limited lecturer technological skill and confidence, inappropriate grafting of ePortfolio onto analog pedagogies, and inconsistent application and support across courses have often resulted in mixed messages to students and universities, and have failed to promote a new perspective of graduate capabilities to the teaching profession and society. Even when adopted enthusiastically, student ePortfolios may be evaluated by academics who have never used or taken ownership of the tool. A peer learning circle (PLC) at the University of Tasmania encouraged academics to use ePortfolio to evidence attainment of recently introduced university teaching performance expectations (TPE). Participants were able to confront the technical challenges, experience and model authentically the form and utility of the ePortfolio for professional certification and learning, and confront their own teaching practice. Paralleling the student journey prompted appreciation of the pedagogical implications of ePortfolio use in learning and assessment, whilst the TPE focus generated ownership not available from traditional workshops.

This showcase reports on the positive initial outcomes of the PLC. It advocates broader university use of ePortfolios for performance management, teaching awards, and promotion, and recommends a formalised unit design/redesign methodology to maximise the educational potential of this technology. ePortfolios can generate both technology enhanced learning and teaching, and outcomes evidence that responds to increased scrutiny of professional university courses. 

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

 ePortfolios provide the mechanism by which graduate capabilities, both in academic learning and professional practice, can be demonstrated, correlated, and evidenced to assessors, employers, and the public. By focusing not just on what graduates know, but how they apply that knowledge in diverse ways, the ePortfolio should be dominating submissions for teaching positions ahead of traditional bureaucratic applications. That this is not so could well relate to the maintenance of more traditional approaches by teacher educators who themselves may not until recently have been required to justify and evidence their own teaching practices. In an increasingly regulated educational world, ePortfolios could reduce the disjunction between university theory and classroom practice and encourage graduate standards focused independent professional learning.

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